To achieve long-term, permanent weight loss, the caloric burning effects of cardiovascular exercise are king!
This is not entirely true. While cardiovascular exercise has a wide range of health benefits, it has much less effect on permanent weight control than weight-bearing or resistance exercise.
Cardiovascular exercise burns calories while it is being performed and for a limited amount of time upon completion of the activity. Resistance training has a much more pronounced effect on the burning of calories and raising the metabolism for extended periods of time. Research has shown that load-bearing exercise can increase metabolic function for as much as 12 to 24 hours.
One of the most well understood benefits of resistance training is the fact that it can increase lean muscle mass as well as strength. As the body is put under the stress of resistance training, it adapts to this strain by increasing its capacity to do work. This can be accomplished by increasing its energy storage capacity (storing more energy inside the cells) or by increasing the amount of lean body mass or muscle tissue present. Either of these methods of compensation allows the body to be better suited to handle greater levels of physical stress. These adaptations increase the level of activity at the cellular level, burning more calories and in turn, increasing the metabolism. Simplified, the more living tissue is present in the body, the more calories the body burns in a 24 hour period.
Another significant benefit of resistance training comes in the form of increasing bone density. The human body is constantly in a state of breaking itself down and re-building itself. Our cells are always dying off as the body creates new cells and tissue. However, as we age, the hormones responsible for the growth of new tissue decline and our bodies become less prone to building new cells. As /a result, bone mineral deposits decrease and bone density starts to drop, making bones weaker, more brittle and prone to breaks and fractures. It has been proven that the stress placed on the skeletal system during resistance or strength training helps stimulate the body to increase bone concentration and bone mass.
An area of resistance training which we focus on greatly with our clients is Functional Training. We tend not to focus greatly on making our clients “stronger” for the 60 minutes that we are working with them. Rather, our focus is to make our clients more functional for everyday life. We train our clients so that their bodies are more apt to facilitate every day functions like lifting, climbing, squatting, throwing, running, yard work, shoveling the walk, bending over without strain etc. This is accomplished by training our clients in a state of “un-balance” in the gym. Remember that it is impossible to train for balance unless the body is off-balance. Performing exercises incorporating exercise balls, stability balls, balance boards, gymnastics rings and other pieces of functional training equipment, we are able to train our clients’ bodies to be more responsive to everyday life.
Strength training has also shown to be beneficial for the heart as it decreases blood pressure and lowers resting heart rate, reducing the risk for heart disease. Regular resistance training will actually help stimulate the liver to produce more HDL (good) cholesterol. It helps decrease stress levels and can help promote regular sleeping patterns.
Cabel McElderry is a local personal trainer and nutrition coach. Visit the Fitness F/X website at www.oneto1fitness.com.